Once the application is completed, all of the information on the application should be verified. In other words, screen your applicant. Never assume the applicant is being completely honest. One method of screening applicants is through the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (TWCC). By obtaining a “Waiver of Confidentiality” form from the prospective employee, an employer may be authorized to contact the TWCC to determine if an applicant has had three or more general injury claims within the previous five years.
The Industrial Foundation of America (IFA) is another resource that can be used to screen applicants. IFA is a non-profit trade association based in Odessa, Texas. IFA maintains a database of over 2.5 million employee records dating back seven years and covering the four-state region of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. IFA, in a matter of minutes, can scan its files to determine if an individual has had a work injury claim in the past seven years. IFA will provide the name of the employer, date, and nature of the accident. They will also tell you if it was a lost-time accident or medical only and whether litigation is pending or the claim has been settled or dismissed.
Specific checks must be made on applicants seeking positions in which they will be driving commercial motor vehicles. IFA can conduct a record check to inform the employer of an applicant’s driving record. Another way to screen driver applicants is through the Texas Department of Public Safety in Austin. Form LIDR-1 allows you to obtain information about any accidents or violations which appeared on an applicant’s record during the previous three years.
An application for employment should include space for listing references including the applicant’s previous employers. The applicant should detail his/ her job history and give specifics on each position held. An applicant who leaves a blank in his/her job history might have something to hide.
Immediately above the reference listing be sure to state something to the effect that: “This company reserves the right to contact the person(s) listed below for consultation about your work experience.” This informs the applicant that you will be checking out his/her background. There are some grey areas regarding information you can receive from a previous employer. However, basic information about the applicant’s previous work experience and reliability is appropriate. The application should list any prerequisites of employment including physicals, references, prior work experience, and any other requirements you have set.
For positions which require specific physical abilities, a physical examination should be a prerequisite to employment. Again, be sure to state this somewhere on the application. An application should state something to the effect that: “The job you are applying for will involve physical labor. If the results of a physical examination indicate a disability that will prevent you from adequately performing the duties of this job, we have the right to refuse your employment with this company based on the essential functions of the job.”
NOTE: An employer may administer tests, or establish job requirements tests related to an applicant’s ability to perform only the essential functions of a job. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities act requires an employer to make reasonable accommodation for an applicant who is physically or mentally challenged. The accommodation includes such provisions as wheelchair accessible interviewing rooms or facilities, assistance in communication for visually or hearing impaired. Interviewers are specifically prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s disability or medical condition, workers’ compensation history, or record of disabilities or medical conditions.
Employers can require a medical exam only after an offer of employment has been made, and only if the exam is required of all employees in that job description. To require the exam, an employer must be able to show the exam is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Information from medical exams must remain confidential and must be kept separate from an employee’s personnel file.
Drug testing will soon become a part of most businesses. It can be used as a tool in the employment process. There are two categories of drug testing. Preemployment testing of all applicants an employer is considering hiring, and random testing of employees already on the payroll. Because the law in this area is in a constant state of flux, you should seek the advice of an attorney before instituting any specific drug testing program. Efforts are currently underway at the federal level to develop a uniform drug testing policy for the workplace. Once you have decided to hire an applicant, be sure all the necessary forms, including immigration (I-9), W-4, and wage and hour forms, are completed.
One individual in your operation should be responsible for making sure that everything on an application is completed and that it is documented correctly. That same person should also be responsible for collection of all information on applicants and ensuring that all prerequisites to employment have been satisfactorily met.
The remainder of this chapter contains samples and forms which can be used: